MLS announces 20th expansion team; New York City FC to join league in 2015

Published: Tuesday, May 21 2013 10:30 a.m. MDT

New York Yankees President Randy Levine, MLS Commissioner Don Garber, Manchester City CEO Ferran Soriano.

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NEW YORK — Hoping their baseball success will translate to titles in another sport, the Yankees are combining with English power Manchester City to own a Major League Soccer expansion team in New York that will start play in 2015.

The team, the 20th in a league that has doubled in size in two decades, will be called New York City Football Club. It has less than two years to find a temporary home while also focusing on where it wants to build a permanent stadium.

"It's a powerhouse combination," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said after Tuesday's announcement.

Manchester City, owned by Sheik Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, will be the controlling owner. The Yankees were approached about investing last week and will have an interest of 20 percent to 25 percent, a person familiar with the deal said, speaking on condition of anonymity because that detail wasn't announced.

The expansion fee for the new team is $100 million. It will compete for attention and dollars with 10 other professional big league clubs in the New York market.

"They'll be running all the soccer. We know our way around New York, how to get things done," said Yankees President Randy Levine, who will be the team's lead person in the launch.

While the Yankees have won a record 27 World Series titles, Manchester City is more akin to the crosstown Mets. It has just three league championships in England compared with rival Manchester United's 20. Four years ago, after City was bought by Sheik Mansour's company, United manager Alex Ferguson derisively called City a "noisy neighbor."

MLS has been negotiating with New York City to build a stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, near the home of the Mets. The Mets had explored owning an MLS team before financial turmoil caused by the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme.

"Flushing is still the preferred site," MLS Commissioner Don Garber said.

However, some community groups have opposed using city parkland. The new owners will consider other sites.

"We need a community that supports us. We need a family that's going to embrace us," Manchester City Chief Executive Officer Ferran Soriano said. "So we're going to continue this discussion. But the first thing we want to do is to listen, listen to the community, listen to everybody."

Holly Leicht, executive director of New Yorkers for Parks, said the Yankees' involvement "opens the door for the possibility there might be a serious discussion about relocating where the stadium will go."

For a soccer stadium to be built at Flushing Meadows, NYC FC would have to reach an agreement with the Mets to use Citi Field's parking lots. The Mets declined comment on the Yankees' deal.

"It seems to make sense with the Yankees involved that the doorstep of Citi Field would be less enticing perhaps than before," Leicht said.

New Yankee Stadium, which opened in 2009, was built on the site of Macombs Dam Park. That parkland was replaced, but not fully until Heritage Field opened last year on the site of the old ballpark.

"While the parks that were built are lovely, there's still a lot of remaining anger among a lot of parks advocates about how that whole process went down," Leicht said.

Bloomberg, in the final year of his term, has advocated the Queens site.

"Flushing Meadows Park is the right place to put it," he said. "It's at the end of the park that doesn't get as much use, and we could get aid for fixing up and helping up the part of the park that everybody does use."

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